Forgiveness is one of the precious ingredients in this life-feast. Saying those two most difficult words keeps the heart tender and young, humbles the stoniest. The vulnerability of baring oneself–offering up the softest of places—breaks open our prideful spirits.
Mother used to punish us by making us sit side-by-side on the couch until we apologized. My sister and I would start off by cringing away from one another—wounds still tender, hearts hard. But by the end of the half-hour, we would be playing some game together, giggling and rubbing shoulders. Somehow, touching fostered forgiveness in our hearts before mother made us say the words.
Aren’t we all side-by-side in this feast line?
We rub up against each other every day; carrying unforgiveness that weights us down—refusing to let the softness of the flesh of others penetrate the rocky crevices of our hearts.
In Gabriel Garcia Marques’s esteemed novel, Love in the Time of Cholera, two of the primary characters—Fermina Daza and her husband Dr. Juvenal Urbino–persist with a disagreement for four months. Over a bar of soap.
I’m sad to say I’ve harbored grudges much longer.
The book of Matthew tells us to be reconciled with our brothers before we offer a gift to God (5:23).
Yesterday, after our little tiff, I called my husband’s cell while he commuted to work.
I’m sorry, I said.
So am I, he replied.
And what began as a gaping hole became something so beautiful that it escapes words. If anger is a chasm, forgiveness is not only a bridge…it fills in the lacuna, creates fertile ground where before there was none.
And love grows.
I am examining my heart today, friends. Looking for the plank in my eye. And if I don’t feel it at first, perhaps I will sit beside the person on the couch a while.
Mother knows best.